Our View: State mostly right on pot industry rules

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Steamboat Today editorial board — June to December 2013

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • David Baldinger Jr., community representative
  • Lisa Brown, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

At issue

Guidelines on the manufacture and sale of recreational marijuana

Our view

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s rules seem reasonable, but it should do more about products that seem aimed at enticing children.

The Colorado Department of Revenue has written 68 pages of guidelines governing the manufacture and sale of retail marijuana in Colorado.

The guidelines are in compliance with Amendment 64, which authorized the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana to persons 21 and older in the state of Colorado. The amendment was approved overwhelmingly by voters last fall and gave the state a deadline of July 1, 2013, to write rules governing the licensing of marijuana manufacturing facilities and retail centers. The Colorado Department of Revenue released the new rules last week.

We did not support the passage of Amendment 64. We thought the state was ready for decriminalization of marijuana but not for manufacturing facilities and retail stores. We also had concerns about conflicts with federal regulations.

That said, we understand and respect the public’s wishes on this matter. Amendment 64 was approved by a wide margin statewide (55 percent to 45 percent), and the margin was even greater in Routt County (63 percent to 37 percent). It’s hard to argue with those results.

We mostly approve of the regulations the Department of Revenue released. The rules largely resemble laws governing the sale of alcohol. Among other things, the guidelines:

■ Require that those wishing to purchase marijuana present photo ID to prove they are at least 21.

■ Define who is eligible for licenses to own and operate retail marijuana stores. The rules include a ban on those who have been convicted of drug-related felonies in the past 10 years.

■ Require inventory controls tracking marijuana from seed to point of retail sale.

■ Require specific video surveillance and security systems in all marijuana facilities and stores.

■ Require detailed labeling on all marijuana and marijuana products including that “there may be health risks associated with the consumption of this product.”

Largely, the regulations seem reasonable and appropriate. Our biggest concern is that the regulations do not yet specifically place limits on marijuana products, such as marijuana candies, that seem aimed at enticing children. The only language in the regulations that addresses this is the prohibition of “mass-marketing campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching minors.” The Department of Revenue does note that the regulations regarding marketing will be refined after public hearings are held.

It remains to be seen how the new guidelines will be implemented and enforced. Some communities will be tested sooner than others, simply because they are viewed as more tolerant of marijuana. Steamboat Springs, based on last year’s vote, falls into that category.

The Department of Revenue has done a good job of trying to meet the intent of Amendment 64 while also establishing regulations to provide reasonable oversight of the marijuana industry. We hold out hope that more will be done to place constraints on the production and marketing of marijuana products that appear to be aimed at children.

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